Thursday, April 03, 2003
Say, bum a smoke, sir Major sir?
posted by kriston at 1:29 PM........
I don't believe that pointing to isolated instances in order to prove an opinion about a general trend is useful, except when the specific point backs up one of my opinions. Yesterday I wrote about Ms. Malone's column on sissy women, but it would appear that Pfc. Jessica Lynch destroys everything. Broken arm(s), broken leg(s), bullet wound(s), stab wound(s), and an empty clip. It will still be especially tragic if, like many POWs, Private Lynch is traumatically affected by her experiences; but no one can say that a woman can't fight like a soldier.
posted by kriston at 12:26 PM........
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Lord! What a long post. Fine, I'll let this sweet article by Garance Franke-Ruta speak for itself. It's called "Homeland Security is for Girls," it's riotous, and--best of all--it's true!
On my last gender equality point, may I just say that the Real World/Road Rules "Battle of the Sexes" makes me glad to have a pair between my legs.
posted by kriston at 2:20 PM........
To my ladies
An article regarding women in the war effort timely intersects the good news of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's safe rescue. In a Sunday Mirror editorial, Carole Malone asserts that women have no place in the military. No bones about it, she says, for reasons typical of Dr. Laura and co: men's nature is to protect women and children, women's nature is to nurture. She moves on to another point that I'd suggest is her real reason for writing the article:
The Americans proudly tell us that one in seven of all their soldiers are women, but that female GIs don't drive tanks and aren't involved in hand-to-hand combat. But the fact remains they ARE in the thick of it, as the disappearance of Private Jessica Lynch and Private Lori Piestew - who haven't been seen since their supply convoy was ambushed last week - demonstrates all too tragically. I don't even want to imagine what's happened to those women. But we all know what women face in times of war - rape, gang rape, slavery, terror.
I think rape is exactly what she's thinking about, and the crux of her argument against women serving. It's a terrifying prospect, all the more so when female soldiers have been captured by a cruel enemy. When used against captured civilians or enemies, rape is intended to devastate the psychology of the victim, her family, and her society. Americans may be especially susceptable to this attack, more so than when a man is tortured, or when a woman is tortured by other means. Nothing can change the deplorable nature of this torture form, but we might perhaps steel ourselves against the eventuality with the realization that such barbarous acts are not the common experience of soldiers, even of POWs. The Ba'athist party's nasty tendency to torture its civilians, including the use of rape, is a reason why American soldiers are there, and may especially lend female soldiers a boldness of conviction.
Whether we want to accept it or not, one of the intrinsic truths is that women are not natural-born killers. [...] Why do we imagine that as a society we hated Myra Hindley so much? Why do a dozen male murderers not hold the same revulsion for us as one cold-eyed, brassy blonde? It's because everything in our world, in our genetic make-up, in our psyche, tells us that women aren't supposed to kill and the ones who do we write off as the physical manifestation of Satan.
Malone betrays a stupid, cynical view of the military here with an analogy between, yes, a serial child-killer and a soldier. She risks irrelevancy with comments like this, and the only reason I address this column at all after this analogy is that her other views are represented at least every night on Fox News.
But they must not get it. And no, it isn't just about the fact that men are physically stronger than them. It's about the indisputable truth that when a man fights alongside a woman his instinct will naturally be to protect her. That is distracting, it makes HIM a bad soldier and it will probably get them both killed. There's no getting away from it - men and women ARE different. We have different roles.
1) I doubt the military is so absolutely inefficient that the presence of a woman jeopardizes the campaign. These soldiers are trained mentally as much as physically and this point simply escapes Malone. 2) That men and women "ARE different" might suggest that women contribute valuable elements to military strategy, to battlefield presence, and to this war effort. Her subtext is clear and I disagree with it.
The media should resist the urge to fetishize female soldiers, neither in the darker sense by overemphasizing the possibility of rape, nor in the lighter sense, by subverting her status as a soldier to her status as a pretty blonde. She is Private Lynch, an earned title, not America's Sweet Jessica, one undesirably bestowed.
posted by kriston at 2:13 PM........
A few tweaks and additions. A start of a blogroll, and note how it subverts the traditional columnal paradigm. Comments are back with no time lost. Substantive posts to follow but this weekend I'm taking a break to visit Sue.
posted by kriston at 1:17 AM........
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
This little website of mine...
We have survived that long night, faithful reader, and the chimerous bastard that was born from the Unnatural intermingling of this blog and Lacy Renee's has been suppressed. A chilling reminder of what was, what is, and what might still, uh, have been being, had it not, you know, stopped doing that.
posted by kriston at 6:38 PM........
My blog is having a seizure.
posted by kriston at 12:16 AM........
Monday, March 31, 2003
I won't deny it--posted by kriston at 11:27 PM........
Showing their cards, all right
Radiohead's new album, "Hail to the Thief," doesn't refer to GW, according to Jonny Greenwood. Right. As if Jonny has any input. The link provides a tracklist and the album's been leaked. If you've got KaZaa, help a Macophile out!
I was 15 when I first saw Radiohead live, opening for REM. It's a testament to the band: I am older than dirt but I don't feel the least bit retarded in being absolutely elated about their new album. The only songs they have that don't make me wet myself are a few off Pablo Honey and "Electioneering."
posted by kriston at 4:56 PM........
A New Yorker article by way of Yglesias that warns that an enemy's enemy does not always make a friend. Crossed or missed signals are compounding the dangers of this war, and it would seem that the Bush administration's mishandling of the war is not limited to diplomatic failures. I don't pretend to know about the military process but the gulf developing between the Pentagon and the Defense department must be a battle in itself, if the normally square-jawed, tight-lipped military leadership is being as vocal about their frustrations with Rumsfeld as they are.
Last Thursday, the Army’s senior ground commander, Lieutenant General William S. Wallace, said to reporters, “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we war-gamed against.”
That suggests in the clearest of terms to me that there is a disconnect. Does the disconnect owe to new, unpredictable situations on the ground, or tunnel vision in DC before anyone was deployed?
posted by kriston at 3:18 PM........
Though I admire his grammarian chops Mr. Safire sometimes baffles me with his approach to the war. Over the last few weeks in his editorials he's made pronouncements that he regards as iron fact, and he freely references himself as if there were no debate to his discoveries. All writers should have a measure of this kind of confidence, but.... From his editorial today, entitled "Snap Judgments":
7. Most overdue revelation by the Pentagon: that Russia has long been smuggling sophisticated arms to Saddam's regime with Syria's hostile connivance. Who suppressed this damning data for a year, and to what end? And is the C.I.A. still ignorant of the transmission to Iraq through Syria of a key component in rocket propellant from China, brokered by France?
The last line comes from a two-part investigation previously published in the Times, in which Safire uncovers a far-reaching plot by France and China to sell weapons materials to Iraq. Besides the indulgent arrogance of assuming that he's got the lead over the intelligence powers of the United States of America (not entirely impossible, but still), his report is based on an unconfirmed and confusing series of emails .
9. Biggest long-run victory of coalition forces to date: the lightning seizure of southern oil fields before Saddam had a chance to ignite them. This underappreciated tactical triumph will speed Iraq's postwar reconstruction by at least a year.
Last I heard we weren't even planning on being at the after party for a year. Seriously, how does he presume to know that? That any oil field goes unignited is an obvious good but the extent of that good--or any action being taken now--on post-war Iraq is clearly unclear.
10. Worst mistake as a result of State and C.I.A. interference with military planning: fearing to offend the Turks, we failed to arm 70,000 free Kurdish pesh merga in northern Iraq. Belatedly, we are giving Kurds the air, commando and missile support to drive Ansar-Qaeda terrorists out of a stronghold, but better planning would have given us a trained, indigenous force on the northern front.
The Ansar-Qaeda connection is another of Safire's assertions that hasn't been born out publicly. The proof is in the pudding: if a connection existed to such an extent that an American reporter could dig a little and get to it, I fully believe that the US gov't would be all over that shit.
I have faith in the Times' staff, and generally their dirt is as good as anyone's. Safire included--but he's pushing the limits of this trust by exerting his leads as Facts, his gut feelings as God's Honest Truth. Maybe he should wait until his own investigations have come to "considered conclusions" before doing so.
posted by kriston at 11:34 AM........
Andrew Sullivan has some things to say about Saddam and Stalin as analogs:
SADDAM'S TERRORISM: Here's what I'm beating myself up about. I long believed that Saddam was a Stalinist; that he ran a brutal police state; that totalitarian regimes - again, as Orwell noted - are often extremely successful at what they do. (Remember Orwell's fear was that totalitarianism would work.) So why did I believe that Saddam's shock troops would not put up that fierce a battle? In retrospect, of course they would. They've been terrified into obedience; and the higher up you go the more that terror is manifested by terrorizing others in turn. It's one big police state. The experience of the collapse of the Soviet Union perhaps lulled us into over-confidence. But Saddam's terror-state is younger, more Stalinist than end-of-empire USSR, and is allied with some of the most fanatical barbarians in the world. I should have thought of that. Not that it changes much now. After the initial adolescent disappointment that we didn't have insta-victory, the longer this goes on, the more confident I'm becoming. Above all, observing the methods of this police state confirms my feeling that this was always the right thing to do. There was no alternative to war, it is now transparently clear, except leaving Saddam entrenched and getting more dangerous. Now to finish the job.
(Sorry to quote the whole post--there are a few html tricks I still need to learn.) Now, Andrew Sullivan doesn't point to a whole lot with this comparison, but I can think of one beneficial analysis he's getting at, concerning regular Iraqi reaction to the war. While most Iraqis might see Saddam in the light we would like them to, as a cruel leader with a hopeless plan for the state, there is still good precedent that they might support him even to the point of fighting Allied forces. Remember Russians under Stalin: from '36 forward, all Russians lived under a veil of fear, and Stalin devastated his people. What might their response to an invasion have been like? Considering that the potential punishment for dissent would only worsen, most Russians would stay silent. This point Sullivan aknowledges, but he overemphasizes the role of the 'police state' in his reasoning. The true believers would have of course loudly called for 'jihad;' even the most brutalized citizens would have still been subject to one of the most powerful information control systems ever seen. Victims, yes, but Russians first and foremost, you can imagine the apologist line going. I think that's more accurate than assuming that Iraqis or Russians or whoever secretly wishes for liberation but is supporting the state as a way of biding their time, that suppressed people aren't hooping and hollering because someone has a gun to their backs.
Couldn't negative Iraqi reaction to the coalition be genuine, even if misguided or abjectly wrong? Was it prudent for Rumsfeld and co. to presume that we should find sympathy at all--much less predict that waves of Iraqis would greet us as liberators? It seems to elude America that many Iraqis would see the first Gulf War as a failure to follow-through. In the every day life of an Iraqi citizen it probably seems correct for Saddam to say that he had the victory, and that even an American victory will still look and feel like a Hussein victory. But beyond all that, American war strategists failed to recognize the character of a people who have learned helplessness. The psychology of submission is something we might have learned from many Russians' very forgiving (if not outright favorable) impressions of Stalin some 40 years after his rule ended. That people will justify misery in the face of change is a valuable insight to be gained from the Stalin/Saddam connection, but I think the administration missed that in favor of the obviousness of evil and the goodness of liberation.
posted by kriston at 10:20 AM........
March Madness has sucked away my will to post. Amazing games, eh? What I'm most concerned about is 1) TJ Ford's leg, which has been spotty for a few games now, though he keeps playing on it, and B) what I'll do with my weekends in April. In lieu of a substantive post, I'll give you this, a la Susan.
posted by kriston at 9:10 AM........